Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Navy Put 'Em Across- USN World War I Enlistment Poster

This is a World War I U.S. Navy recruitment poster by famed artist Henry Reuterdahl that is currently on display in our World War I gallery.  The painting is one of Reuterdahl's most popular works.  With the sailor carrying a U.S. Army "Doughboy," his Springfield rifle, and gear, and the words "The Navy Put 'Em Across," the work is also very popular with active-duty and retired Sailors.  It should be noted, however, that Reuterdahl never intended the work to be a jab at the Army. 

What Reuterdahl did intend was to get young men to enlist in the U.S. Navy.  When he produced this work, he convinced artists such as James Flagg and Howard Chandler Christy to produce enlistment posters as well.  Flagg and Christy were both at first reluctant to produce work for the military.  With Reuterdahl's persuasion, they agreed.  The result was legendary works such as Flagg's I Want You and Christy's Gee I Wish I Were a Man, I'd Join the Navy! 

By 1917, Reuterdahl was already an accomplished artist and commentator of all things related to the  U.S. Navy.  When he first came to the United States from his home country of Sweden in 1893 to cover the Colombian Exposition for a Swedish magazine,  he was awestruck by U.S. Naval warships.  He decided to remain in America and made a living as a contract artist for many of America's leading weekly magazines.  He produced many of his works on the Spanish-American War and the Great White Fleet from his own eyewitness viewpoint.  As a writer, he served as a co-editor with British naval writer Fred Janes to roll out the Jane's Fighting Ships series of naval warship guides. You can read more about Reuterdahl's life and his art style in Volume 12 Issue 3 of The Daybook.

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